POONA FORD | DT | TEXAS
Height: 5112 | Weight: 312 | Arm: 32 3/4" | Hand: 9 1/4" | 40 Time: 5.16
Kaylon "Poona" Ford is a fourth-year Senior who was elected as a team captain by his teammates and is the emotional leader playing as a nose tackle Todd Orlando's 3-4 defense. Despite being blanketed by double teams, Ford has posted exceptional production for an interior defender with 133 tackles, 20.5 TFLs, 4 sacks and 3 forced fumbles making 30 starts in 46 career games. Ford is also a staple on the Longhorns special teams unit and surprisingly has three blocked FGs despite his height.
Nicknamed after Winnie the Pooh by his grandmother as a child, Ford is built like a fire hydrant with a honeypot stomach and lacks the ideal height for an NFL defensive lineman despite boasting an 80"+ wingspan. What the 2017 Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year lacks in length, he makes up for in twitch. Ford is an exceptional athlete with superior balance explosiveness, and flexibility and wins with an extremely quick first step that allows him to get under taller linemen and gain leverage to shoot into gaps.
As a pass rusher, Ford uses his explosiveness and flexibility to split gaps and penetrate up field and consistently affect the play. Ford leans on a signature swim-and-shimmy move where he contorts his body perpendicular to the blocker and slithers into the gap to avoid full contact at the POA, where his lack of size puts him at a disadvantage. Ford is an active hand-fighter who stacks counters on top of rip moves to shed double teams and maintain the leverage battle. Ford has outstanding stamina and is as durable as they come, rarely having to come out of the game and not sacrificing any motor in the process. While Ford is explosive in short area bursts, his COD ability is limited at his size and he will occasionally struggle when QBs decide to move off their mark and scramble out of his rush lane. When crashing or slanting as a run defender, Ford has a tendency of over-pursuing his fit and will get shepherded past his assignment by blockers.
Ford is terrific presence in the locker room and at one point during his time at Hilton Head High School in South Carolina, the two-time Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll selection considered joining the Marines to defend his country rather than playing football. Ford earned some momentum during his eye-opening week during the East-West Shrine Game which later warranted a Senior Bowl invitation where he continued to flash against dominant competition, registering 4 tackles, a fumble recovery, and a sack against Wyoming QB Josh Allen. Scouts will have to project Ford's athletic prowess off of his film and pro day workout, as Ford was one of the bigger Combine snubs this year. Although Ford has stated he tries to mirror his game after Aaron Donald, he compares similarly to Grady Jarrett in both body type and play style and will be best as a pass rushing nose tackle in a 4-3 defense due to his leverage and first step. Ford should hear his name called later on the draft's third day.
Overall Grade: 78
Athletic Ability: 3
Play Strength: 4
Play Speed: 6
Competitive Toughness: 7
Finesse Moves: 4
Power Moves: 4
Gap Control: 3
Move Arsenal: 4
Player Comparison: Grady Jarrett
Projected Round: Round 6/7
For information on our grading criteria, click here.